Liam Fox Hits Back At Claims He Misled Journalists Over Burglary
Liam Fox has denied he had anything to hide amid claims journalists were misled about the circumstances of a burglary at his home - as the prime minister has indicated he is willing to publish details of any meetings, if they occurred, between Downing Street officials and Adam Werritty.
As allegations concerning his links to lobbyist Adam Werritty continued to swirl, the Defence Secretary confirmed reports that a friend had been staying at his London property when thieves broke in during the general election campaign.
But he stressed it was not Mr Werritty - and said he was not sure why the media had been given the impression he was alone.
"As I told the police at the time, a friend was staying in the guest room," Dr Fox said in a statement. "My wife was stranded in Hong Kong due to the ash cloud. For the sake of clarity, it wasn't Adam Werritty. I was a victim of a violent crime and I'm appalled at being portrayed as having something to hide. We're trying to establish why the media were given the impression I was alone."
The development came with the storm engulfing Dr Fox showing little sign of abating. A series of new claims surfaced overnight, including The Sun revisiting the April 2010 theft at his home.
Channel 4 News said Sri Lankan officials told them Mr Werritty offered to help them to buy arms during a trip with the Cabinet minister. And the Guardian reported that the 33-year-old described his position as "office of Dr Liam Fox" when he booked into a Dubai Hotel earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail raised the issue of the Defence Secretary tagging short personal breaks where he was accompanied by Mr Werritty on to taxpayer-funded official visits.
David Cameron is certain to be grilled about inconsistencies in the official version of links between the two men at Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons later.
Dr Fox has apologised to Parliament for allowing lines between his personal and ministerial life to become "blurred". Mr Werritty was the best man at the MP's wedding, styled himself on business cards as an "adviser", and attended high-level meetings. However, Dr Fox has insisted there was no financial benefit from the relationship.
The Defence Secretary has so far received strong support from colleagues, especially on the Tory right. However, senior backbencher Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer, warned that MoD staff needed to be able to get on with running campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya without having to worry about "non-defence issues".